Equine Wellness

Learn All About:

Equine animal wellness defines the procedures involved in keeping your horse’s animal health and well being in the best possible condition. It includes regular checkups, dieting plans, preventive measures, and treatments for all types of diseases and irritations that can occur in a horse or any other equine.

Importance of Equine Wellness:

Maintaining a good pet health and wellbeing is essential to keep your horse at its maximum performance for any daily task. Conducting regular pet test such as physical and dental exams, vaccinations, and deworming sessions for your horse prevent diseases before their occurrence. The maintenance of a balanced diet is also important to keep equines in proper shape and strength and ensure animal wellness.

Most importantly, equine animal wellness procedures make sure that your horse lives a long and healthy life free of any diseases.

Common Equine Health Concerns:

According to Life Stage

During the life of an equine which spans for over 20 years, it transforms from a young foal to a healthy adult equine. The transformation process consists of various stages in its life where the animal may suffer from some common pet health problems.

The many stages of the life of a horse are:

  • Foal: An equine during the first year of life
  • Yearling: After one year time when the legs and body frame is grown
  • Two year old: After two year and reaching the weight and height of an adult equine
  • Adult: An equine in its adulthood
  • Geriatric: After the equine starts to show ageing signs

Diseases in Foals and young equines

  • Prematurity: This is a condition where the foal is born before its period of 11 months in the womb or with signs of prematurity.
  • Sepsis: This is a common condition which can cause death for the newborn equine. It’s caused by bacterial toxins and bacteria in the blood of the foal. Sepsis can be prevented by adequate passive transfer and identified by checking the lgG within the first hour of the birth of the animal.

Symptoms: Poor suckle, Umbilical infection, Weakness, Infection in joints, Diarrhea, Pneumonia, fever

  • Neonatal Encephalopathy: This is one of the common but non-infectious diseases in new born equines. This is also known as Neonatal Maladjustment Syndrome and “Dummy Foal.” If the foal shows signs of not nursing, poor suckling, other neurological symptoms, or abnormal behavior, these may be signs that your pet is sick with Neonatal Encephalopathy.
  • Neonatal Isoerythrolysis: This is the most common alloimune condition in young equines. It is acquired from hemolytic anemia and can occur between 7 hours to 12 days after birth of the foal.

Symptoms: Anemia, lethargy and dullness, High respiratory and heart rates, yellow mucous membranes, Urine of dark yellow color or reddish brown color, Cardiac murmur

  • Physitis: This is a condition that occurs in young horses such as foals and yearlings. It’s identified by swellings that occur around growth plates of long bones. The affected young equines are usually the ones who have started training and are fed with high-protein or high-grain diets. The causes can be toxicosis, compressed growth plate, conformation defects, and nutritional imbalance.

Diseases in geriatric equines

  • Cushing’s disease: This condition also known as Pituitary Pars Intermediate Dysfunction (PPID) occurs in the endocrine system of old horses. This can be identified by irregular shredding of the coat and by a visible long shaggy coat.
  • Osteoarthritis: A type of joint disease that occurs in old equines. Regular exercises for the equine can keep this condition in control. 
  • Hearing loss and cataracts: Much like humans, equines also suffer from hearing loss and cataracts in their old age. But as they rely on acute hearing and focused vision this may cause difficulty for its daily activities. It usually occurs when the horse is over 15 years old.
  • Swayback: Also known as lowback, lordosis, and softback, this increases the curvature of the spine of the equine. The main cause for the condition is genetics.
  • Dental disease: A common condition in geriatric equines. This causes the display of signs that your pet is sick like quidding or dropping of food when chewing. The inability to masticate food properly is a sign that shows degrading animal wellness and causes choking and weight loss.
  • Heaves: Another pet health problem which is common particularly in stable horses is Heaves. It is an inflammatory disease which hinders the breathing of the horse sometimes leading to choking just like asthma in humans. The signs that your pet is sick with heaves include coughing and difficulty in breathing. It’s caused by genetics, allergies, and husbandry.
  • Laminitis: A kind of inflammation felt by an equine at the inner part of its hoof. Laminitis causes irritation to the equine and makes it helpless. This is associated with equines having PPID and makes the horse shift its weight from the front feet to the hind.
  • Colic: Equines at any stage of their life may suffer from a digestive problem known as colic. Colic may occur due to an improper food diet you give to the horse which blocks the intestines. Gas formation in the colon may also lead to colic. Your pet requires a full surgery if the intestines get twist due to colic and most of them die. So, to ensure pet health, you must try to treat colic at its very first stage when it shows signs that your pet is sick.

According to Behavior

  • Osteochondritis Dissecans: This is a common orthopedic disease in equines. It affects joint growth cartilage, bone shape, and length etc. and degrades animal health and animal wellness. Inability of coordination and tendency to lie down, stiffness and swelling in bones, difficulty of moving are some of the visible signs that your pet is sick with this disease.
  • Contracted Flexor Tendons: This is a condition caused by contracted tendons in the body which can be present from birth or acquired later. The cause can be wrong positioning of the fetus in the uterus, exposure of the mare to toxic material or genetics. If a foal shows inability to stand or walks on the upper area of fetlocks and older horses’ knuckles in the fetlocks, these may be signs that your pet is sick with Contracted Flexor Tendons.
  • Equine Encephalomyelitis: Also known as the “Sleeping sickness.” If an equine shows signs that your pet is sick of nervousness, blindness, muscle tremors, and uncoordinated behavior it may be suffering from Equine Encephalomyelitis. This can also cause paralysis in later stage
  • Tying up: This condition is also known as Exertional Rhabdomyolysis, Monday morning disease and Azoturia. It causes degeneration in muscles and causes severe damage. It’s mostly caused by high workload, overfeeding of grains, genetic factors, cold weather, vitamin E, or selenium deficiency etc. If the equine looks stiff, sore and reluctance to walk, it may be signs that your pet is sick from the disease.
  • Potomac Horse Fever: A disease caused by an infection in tissues and blood of the horse by bacteria. If signs that your pet is sick of fever, profuse, watery diarrhea, depression and decreased gut sounds are displayed, the reason could be the Potomac Horse Fever. This condition can cause other diseases such as laminitis and colic as well as shock, dehydration and even death to the animal.

Diseases of Focus

Worms in Horses

Introduction: Internal parasites, more commonly known as worms, is a disease found commonly in horses. These worms feed on the internal lining of the intestine of your horse and can cause many difficulties and irritations for the animal. These worms can get attached by their suckers to the animal’s body and can also travel through tissues to other parts of the body.

Trends/Stats:

According to ‘Internal Parasites of Horses’ by Charles L. Stoltenow and Clare H. Purdy,

  • Horses are susceptible to over 60 types of internal parasites.
  • A single horse can harbor multiple species of worms at a time.
  • The effects of worms are more evident in undernourished, young horses.
  • A horse having a 2000 eggs/gram of fecal matter can discharge 25 million eggs per day.  

Prevalence: Worms in horses is a condition that is prevalent in all parts of the world. According to ‘The prevalence and intensity of internal parasites of horses in the U.S.A.’ by Reinemeyer CR, Smith SA, Gabel AA and Herd RP,

Symptoms:

A horse can appear to be to be in perfect animal health and animal wellness showing signs of good animal wellness while suffering from worms or internal parasitism. But there are certain signs that your pet is sick that give away the disease, especially in horses of younger age.

  • Slow growth
  • Pot belly
  • Depression
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Dull, rough coat
  • Reduced stamina
  • Dullness
  • Diarrhea
  • Colic

Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

  • Diagnosis

Introduction: Worms or internal parasites in horses can be diagnosed by several methods. Whichever the method you choose, early diagnosis is the key to good pet health and animal wellness in the horse. Identifying the disease early can save the horse from the difficulties it may face, before the disease becomes severe.

Waiting for symptoms to appear may increase the risk for the animal. Therefore it is advised to conduct regular home tests such as Fecal egg counts (FEC) and use available home pet test kits to diagnose the disease. Making regular visits to the veterinarian can also help in early diagnosis and to ensure animal wellness as expected.

Tests Available:

Perfect Pet Equine Fecal Worm Home Detection Test Kit

This pet test provides a method of diagnosing worms in your horse by an easy and accurate method. With accuracy guaranteed to be higher than a regular vet checkup, the pet test is conducted in a lab with advanced methodologies.

Instructions:

  1. Collect a stool sample of your horse (1-2 tablespoons).
  2. Place in plastic bag.
  3. Post the bag to the creators using first class mail.

Note: Diagnosing and treatments for tapeworm is also done if the tapeworm is sent along with the stool sample in a separate bag.

Benefits:

  1. Identifies the presence of worms
  2. Identifies the type of worms
  3. Identifies the state of the infection
  4. Finds the specific wormer to use
  5. Includes whether the wormer works
  • Treatment

Wormers

Treatments for horses suffering from worms are done using wormers to regain the horse’s animal health. A wormer contains a chemical that can destroy the parasite and eliminate it from your horse’s body. There are many brands of wormers that can be purchased with differences in:

  • The active ingredient present
  • Differences in the stage of parasite lifecycle it controls
  • The type of parasites it can control
  • Treatment intervals
  • The method of usage

There are only four families of active ingredients as follows.

  1. Macrocylic Lactones
  2. Benzimidazole
  3. Pyrimidines
  4. Praziquantel

Certain wormers contain a single active ingredient, while others contain multiple active ingredients. It is important to know the type of active ingredient as well as the brand of wormer that’s needed to deworm your horse before purchase. 

Different wormers come in different states such as gels, granules, liquids, and pastes. The gels use oral syringes to feed to the horse while the liquids as well as granules are given with food.

Worming

There are several things to consider when you worm your horse.

  1. Measure the weight of the horse using weight tape or weight-bridge methods. This is done because worming should be conducted according to the weight of the horse.
  2. Read instructions about the dose and the method to use the wormer.
  3. Keep records of worming sessions, the product used, active ingredient, and the result.
  4. Conduct worming for all the horses in a herd at the same period using the same product.
  5. Don’t conduct inappropriate and infrequent worming sessions.
  6. Seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.
  • Prevention

“Prevention is better than cure.”

There are many methods to prevent your horse(s) from getting infected with internal parasites. Although all animals contain a certain amount of worms in their bodies, if followed correctly, these methods can prevent the occurrence of a severe disease to a certain extent and ensure good animal health in your horse. 

Pasture Management

  • Collect horse dung on a regular basis, preferably at least once a week to avoid contamination and buildup of larvae.
  • Harrow the pasture in dry seasons.
  • Avoid accumulation of droppings around the horse shelter.
  • Don’t use horse manure or waste from stables as fertilizer for horse paddocks.
  • Provide pasture sufficient for the number of horses.
  • Don’t allow paddocks to be over-grazed.

General Husbandry

  • Avoid feeding horses on the ground. Use food containers instead.
  • Don’t refeed hay which was kept or dragged on ground with soil.
  • Clean feeding containers, water bowls, and other utensils regularly.
  • Clean and scrub floors and walls of stables regularly.

Equine wellness is a broad subject that encompasses a large number of areas from diseases, treatments, prevention, and equine care. A thorough knowledge of basic equine management is necessary to keep your horse’s pet health and wellness in good condition. Therefore, educate yourself with necessary facts and information and be aware of diseases that can degrade the animal wellness of your equine. Browse through our product listings and articles for more information.

 

References

1.http://www.petuniversity.com/horses/common-horse-health-problems.htm

2.http://horses.animal-world.com/information/horse-health.php

3. http://www.dspca.ie/BasicEquineCare

4. http://www.merckvetmanual.com/pethealth/horse_disorders_and_diseases/digestive_disorders_of_horses/gastrointestinal_parasites_of_horses.html

5. http://www.horsemart.co.uk/care/how-to-prevent-your-horse-from-worms/16

6. http://www.aaep.org/info/horse-health?publication=876

7. http://www.horseworm.com/symptoms-of-horse-worms.htm

8. http://www.merckvetmanual.com/pethealth/horse_disorders_and_diseases/bone_joint_and_muscle_disorders_in_horses/developmental_orthopedic_disease_in_horses.html

9. http://www.equinews.com/article/common-diseases-of-older-horses

10. http://www.thehorse.com/photos/slideshows/33006/old-horses-diseases-and-conditions

11. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=1571

12. http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/zoonotic-diseases-horses-humans?id=&pageID=1&sk=&date=

13.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6237483

14. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/horse/v543.pdf

 

For Further Reading

https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/common-ailments-and-health-problems-horses

http://www.stephenbrooksequine.co.uk/Common_horse_health_problems-bl17.htm

https://www.medicanimal.com/A-Complete-Guide-to-the-Types-of-Worms-Affecting-Horses-and-the-Drugs-Effective-Against-them/a/ART111545

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?d=508&articleid=1602

https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/horse-worm-control-and-pasture-management